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Podcast: The Future of Live Music in SA with Simon Attwell (Freshlyground)


Simon Attwell is a member of Freshlyground, one of South Africa’s biggest and most formative bands on the world stage.  In this episode of Big Fish Stories, Simon joins Eitan to chat about life as a musician through the pandemic, the future of live music in South Africa and abroad, mental wellness of musicians through the pandemic, and how artists can do the hard work while things are tough to create their own work.  

Transcript available at the bottom of this post.






Eitan Stern (00:00):
Testing testing 1, 2, 3. So what is the future of live music in South Africa?

Simon Atwell (00:07):
1, 2 1, 2, 1 2, 3, 4, baby.

Simon Atwell (00:07):
I like the way you move

Simon Atwell (00:10):
It makes me wanna

Simon Atwell (00:11):
Fly into your arms and suck your,

Simon Atwell (00:16):
Can we put that in? Yeah. Cool.

Eitan Stern (00:25):
Welcome to legalese’s big fish stories, the podcast where we showcase local south African entrepreneurs, their stories, and their big relevance to the world around them. As lawyers, working with startups and established businesses in the tech and creative industries, we get front row seats to some incredible business adventure rides. The problem is that as lawyers, our work is confidential with big fish stories. We’re going inside the room with some proud south African entrepreneurs to talk about their airy highs, lonely lows, and creamy middles of the road to success. As a country, deep in economic development, there is massive potential for smart entrepreneurs to build something great. Join us as we meet some of these big fish and find out how they’re looking to make their ponds even bigger. I’m your host managing director of legalese, Eitan stern. Okay, cool. So tell me a little bit about yourself, who is Simon and how did you get into music?

Simon Atwell (01:18):
Simon was born in South Africa, but moved up to Zimbabwe in 1980 and grew up in Zimbabwe and was given a recorder at the age of six or seven, uh, which led to a flute at the age of nine, which led to joining orchestras and then going to music school in England, where I did my a levels. And from there, I flirted with the idea of doing music at university, and I came to Cape town, UCT, and I lasted a week and I decided that I wanted to do psychology. So I put down the Flute and my whole history musically up until that point had been classical. So I’d been playing in orchestras. Um, I’d been earning money from the Flute from the age of about 12 playing at weddings and functions in little quartets and things like that. I had started listening to a little bit of like Leon Anderson, Jethro Tull and as I grew up flirted with the idea of breaking out of classical, but never had the balls to do it really anyway. So when I got to UCT I did psychology and then I ended up doing English and it was about four years that I didn’t touch the flute or an instrument

Eitan Stern (02:30):
That you didn’t play at all. Wasn’t any playing in your bedroom? It was just that,

Simon Atwell (02:34):
No. I mean, I, I even, I even took the flute to Dublin prior to that, and my year out between school and varsity and it stayed in my bag the whole time, you know, the idea was that I was gonna find some Irish pubs and join some musicians and sessions and, and really get into that. And I didn’t have the balls to take it out of my bag there either. It was kind of weird.

Eitan Stern (02:54):
So then what happened next? You are one of the founding members of freshlyground. How did it go from someone who wasn’t playing their instrument at all to starting freshlyground?

Simon Atwell (03:04):
I got sick, I got cancer and I kind of relooked at my life a little bit and decided that maybe I wanted to pick up the flute again and, and actually give this thing a bash. So maybe cancer gave me some balls. I started getting in touch with musicians at that stage. I lived in observatory and I started hanging out with guys who were trying to start bands and had a few miss starts with various people. And I was working at a touch of madness, which is a small bar in observatory. And one evening this guy walked in and said, I’ve heard from a friend that you play the flute. Do you wanna come by and, and, uh, jam. So I said, yeah, look, I’ve been, I’ve been thinking about starting to play again and, and experimenting and having fun with music. So let’s, let’s give it a bash. That guy was Aron Turest-Swartz. And, uh, he was one of the founding members along with myself and a guy called Justin Tonkin. So the three of us met quite regularly and started a band. I think our first performance was as gecko. It was a four piece with Damian Staz on drums. And we performed in observatory to friends and family. Great, like our first couple of gigs. And that was how the band started as a four piece called Gecko.

Eitan Stern (04:21):
Okay. And how, how did the go go from there? So it’s four guys playing in the house parties in observatory. How does it go to being one of south Africa’s? Uh, biggest acts.

Simon Atwell (04:31):
Yeah. We quickly figured out we needed a singer. Okay. Surprisingly, yeah, we were quite stubborn initially that we weren’t gonna get that route, but Zolani was in the audience in one of the shows we did. And actually Erin’s mother had kind of coaxed her to come, seen her acting and doing a bit of drama and she stood up and, and jammed with us and it kind of immediately made sense. And that’s how it started. And it grew organically from there. That was 2002, 2003. We won a, a competition emerging sounds competition, which gave us a recording contract. We recorded our first album sold that ourselves are the bit of our car kind of thing, the usual story. And then the following year, 2004, we recorded Nomvula which we then sold to Sony. Okay. And Sony got it onto radio and, and things turned around.

Eitan Stern (05:36):
Was there a moment that things started moving fast or was this a slow, gradual pace that your band took off?

Simon Atwell (05:44):
I think winning the emerging sounds competition gave us a sense of belief. You know, we always felt like we had something to offer, even though one of the judges in that competition wrote in the scorecard would never put this stuff on radio. Um, we, we always felt if we had the chance to get our stuff in front of the public, that it would do well. Yeah. And it was, it was after we recorded Nomvula with Joe Arthur and Victor Masondo in Joburg. We were actually overseas when that record was released. And we got this call from, from Lance who was at Sony music, who was, he was the guy who was looking after us there. And we got a call. We were on tour in Europe and he said, guys, Musica have just ordered 10,000 units up until then. We’d been selling like 20, 30 units out the bit of the car. Exactly. Yeah. And that’s when things started to snowball. Yeah.

Speaker 4 (06:29):
Did you hear the news on the radio today people have agreed to give their love away?

Eitan Stern (06:39):
I mean, it’s interesting that you mentioned it’s when people got to see you live and got to see the band play. I know for musicians, there’s often the two aspects of the career, there’s the creating and making music. And if you’re lucky enough to do that in the studio, the studio aspect of perfecting it, and then there’s the live music aspect, the, the, the free, the wild, uh, the much more fluid aspect. What do you feel like you fit better into, are you a musician that prefers the Finese of the studio time? Or do you like the live music aspect to it?

Simon Atwell (07:09):
They both come with the joys and their complications and their, their frustrations, you know? Um, I enjoy elements of both the live thing. It can be terrifying and it can be completely euphoric. Yeah. You know, to have an audience responding to you, you can buy into that energy and you can actually lose yourself for an hour. And, and everything’s kind of makes sense. Um, you can walk into a stage and nothing goes right. And you feel like a doos, and, and it’s, and it’s hard work. Sure. Same in the studio, you know, sometimes you can get in there and feel that you’re feeling comfortable, the space is making sense, you know, the song, and you’ve got something to say, sometimes you feel like a fraud. You, you’re kind of in this room, you’re under pressure. You’re not sure exactly what you’re doing. Uh, musically. You’re not kind of sure everybody’s watching you. There’s a bit of a self judgment going on and it’s hard work tough.

Eitan Stern (07:56):
Mm. So, I mean, it’s quite safe to say that probably over the last 20 years, I dunno if my math is correct, but you have been writing and performing music and playing gigs regularly for the last two decades. Just about, obviously in 2019, we had this pandemic arrive or 2020 personally, how did this, how did this, I mean, we’ve all had our lives affected by the pandemic. How did the pandemic affect your life and your career?

Simon Atwell (08:21):
So I was in an interesting position in that Freshlyground’s been together since, you know, we got together in 2002 and the end of 2019 new year’s Eve was our last gig as a band for the foreseeable future. Uh, Zolani is exploring her solo career and she’d given us fair warning. So we had the whole of 2019 to prepare. So I was kind of in a privileged position in that I prepared for a year of, of not really earning money for music and not being sure what, where my life was gonna take me. And in March 2020, when everything shut down, we ran away to the desert. And, you know, we’ve been in Prince Albert for two years as a family. So musically

Eitan Stern (09:01):
As a personal family, I seem not, not as a freshlyground

Simon Atwell (09:04):
Family, not very much as a personal family. Uh, so musically, I was kind of in good shape, not musically, but in terms of the pandemic, I was in fairly good shape as a musician because I prepared for the band to stop, but it also gave us time. And I started a new band called the Congo Cowboys just before, before the pandemic, we were actually meant to be going on tour to Europe. And that, that shut down very quickly. So, so everything music was, was put on, hold up, obviously.

Eitan Stern (09:37):
And so then I don’t know. I mean, as you say, your touring life was sort of being on pause. Did you, during the pandemic delve into any of this online shows, putting together these digital shows, I mean, it became a bit of a phenomenon during the pandemic. Did you do it at all? Was there anything that, that you enjoyed about the experience of doing those online shows or not enjoyed? Where, where were you with the online music shows?

Simon Atwell (09:59):
I watched a few and initially I wasn’t, I wasn’t that convinced. And we did do a, the Cogo Cowboys did a show from prince Albert. The guys came out and we, we formed it live. Um, and that was you. And

Eitan Stern (10:13):
It was published though. It was broadcast, live people watching when it was happening,

Simon Atwell (10:16):
It was a delayed broadcast. It wasn’t actually a live performance cuz we were in, we formed it in the middle of the desert. There was no connection or anything, but it was, it was like a day delay and we put it out desert, we live and we were online commenting and responding to people. So they knew it was kind of a pre-record, but we were present and tried to make the whole thing feel. And what was the

Eitan Stern (10:34):
Feedback from that?

Simon Atwell (10:35):
I mean, people love the experience. People love the fact that it was formed in an interesting location. Yeah. Um, and, and that it was the more acoustic version of the bands. It was something new for the audience and for us and it, and it’s led to, to looking at, you know, alternative ways of putting our music out there and, and of making an income. So we’re about to launch our patreon page. And I think a lot of bands over the last couple of years have looked at platforms like patreon, where they can create music videos and build a community of fans. They can create music for specifically who can support them. Um, and that’s really up the, up the production level of life performance to video. And

Eitan Stern (11:17):
What do you, what do you think of that? I mean, if you were someone young getting into music now, and this was a part of the whole, I mean, cause when you got into music, it was recording music and playing shows. I mean, I meant, it sounds like what you’re saying is that it’s gotten a little bit more involved now creating your own audience, increasing the production value. I mean, do you think that this is, do you think that the music industry has shifted, it’s gonna shift back to live music or do you think this element of building patron pages producing shows online? Do you think that this is here to stay?

Simon Atwell (11:47):
I think it’s definitely here to stay. I think that if you can crack that model, if you can make good content and engaging content that resonates with an audience, you immediately have access to a global audience and you can build that and sustain yourself without, you know, the need of, of having to get in the bus and tour around. You can actually have bands are making a hell of a lot of money on Patreon. If they, if they’ve got a, a global audience and they’re creating good content, they can completely sustain themselves and then choose where they wanna go and when they wanna

Eitan Stern (12:17):
Go. Cool. So, I mean, that’s super interesting what you’re saying in the same way that we think about like technology companies or, or, or eCommerce suddenly having a global reach your, your clients mean anywhere your employees can be anywhere. And the pandemic is sort of changed the way that the tech industry has certainly worked. And what I’m hearing you saying is that with live music, suddenly you have the ability to play global shows and access audiences abroad.

Simon Atwell (12:40):
Yeah, totally. I mean, I’ve discovered bands, just using patreon, looking at what other artists are doing and obviously through YouTube and, um, and, and things like that, but, but really started to engage with artists because they’re creating these intimate and beautifully produced little snippets of, of, of their lives. Yeah.

Eitan Stern (12:58):
And so, I mean, let’s, let’s, if you can try to put yourself in the position of Simon in five, 10 years, time, the pandemic, hopefully it’s the thing of the past. We’ve all got through it and we’ve gone back to our regular lives. What do you think happens with live music? Do you think, do you think that we, that the music industry kind of goes back to where it was? Or do you think that these things you’ve kind of said that look, the patreon thing and the ability to create content is here to stay, but do you think it’s a fad? I guess what I’m saying, do you think it’s a fad that will, as soon as we can go back to shows it’s gonna revert back to normal or do you think young musicians are getting shaped in this way of thinking about more broader ways of producing content?

Simon Atwell (13:34):
I, I don’t think it’s a fad at all. I think it’s here to stay and I think that it will go hand in hand with live. I think that you can create an audience, you can engage people and that can only, you know, you can build towards a live performance. It can dictate where you’re going to perform. Your audience can get involved in telling you where you they’d like to see you. Things like that. You know, I think it’s, it’s very much goes hand in hand with live performance. Ultimately, you know, I I’ve just come back from Nashville and they’re the, pandemic’s over. Sure. In Nashville, no, one’s wearing a mask and everybody’s fully going to concerts and there’s no limitations on crowds and all that kind of thing. And I went out and it’s the first time I realized, you know, you, you forget, I went to a live show there. I saw Corey Henry and, and uh, Tank and The Bangers. And I walked into this, this show and I’d realized shed has been like three years since I actually saw like a live band that I’d been to see a big show cuz I, I didn’t do much in, in 2019 <laugh> in terms of going out to music,

Eitan Stern (14:29):

Simon Atwell (14:29):
A lot going on in not going out and, and of obviously then moving to Prince Albert, not a lot going on there either. And it was, uh, it quite an extraordinary thing to feel that energy again. Yeah. Um, so you’re never gonna replace that, right? That, that, that feeling of actually going to a live show and being immersed in, in a performance where you can completely lose yourself and you can stand with a picture of beer and, and just like go bit wild. Having said that I’ve loved sitting in my bedroom and putting my headphones on and, and watching intimate shows on my computer. Yeah. You know, it’s a different feeling.

Eitan Stern (15:01):
I mean, it’s so interesting. So I also just got back from seeing a couple of shows in Europe and the truth is being at a venue with thousands of people and bodies touching you and sweat and breathing a pitcher of beer in your hand, like the truth is it fitted like an old glove. Hadn’t done it in two years and it, and it, it didn’t take any time at all to, to revert straight back into that position. And I really enjoy it. But if I think about my life in some of the ways that I consume music in which it’s changed over the last two, few years, I watch a lot more music on YouTube because people started putting out a lot more content and suddenly, you know, I remember Radiohead did it at the beginning of the pandemic. They’d put up these shows online to kind of replace something for fans. A fans said something to attach to, and I hope that the bands don’t stop doing that because, you know, me as a fan thousands of miles away from Radiohead and years from ever getting to see them was a really nice way to, to interact with it.

Simon Atwell (15:51):
No, totally. I mean, I think things will, will relax here. And once they’ve removed all the restrictions and people don’t have to wear masks, I think the masks are creating still a little bit of anxiety in people. They’re still a little of reticence to get into a room and really let go and just actually relax, but that’s gonna come, you know, whether it’s in six months or years time, and there’s gonna be a return to yeah. To really celebrating live

Eitan Stern (16:12):
Music. I mean, I remember so, so in my profession as a lawyer, I remember having this conversation in 2019 around, would our clients ever accept a lawyer who was remote a lawyer that they never met face to face? And I remember thinking, well, my career’s always gonna be tied to Cape down because our clients would never accept that come the pandemic things shifted immediately to, uh, digital meetings and they will never go back. We will see our clients in person if we need to, but for the most part, we do our meetings digitally and it works totally fine. And it’s freed us up a lot and changed operations. And I think most businesses around the world are gonna experience something like that. I guess it’s gonna be interesting to see what lasts and what doesn’t from this pandemic on the music industry.

Simon Atwell (16:54):
I mean, I think going back to the YouTube thing prior to the pandemic, there was obviously a lot of music videos being released. Yeah. And that’s always been a big thing. And then there was an attempt to emulate a live performance using sort of multicam or trying to edit it. And I think quite quickly, people worked out that that felt a little bit like a music video, unless you’re doing a live yeah. Live broadcast show with multicam. That’s a different thing. But if you, if you’re creating like a, a showcase of, of a song, a performance for an audience, that one camera that can sit in front of the band and, and maybe slightly pan in and out, but create this realistic intimacy, I’m right. Sitting there in front of them. And it’s real. And it’s live that. There’s something special about that format. And I really believe that’s, that’s here to stay. It doesn’t cost anything. You, there’s no special requirement and you can set up an iPhone on a tripod and do it. And it, so it’s immediately accessible to all musicians that can put themselves out. And it’s very powerful,

Eitan Stern (17:52):
I suppose, which we don’t have to get too deep into now, but I suppose as the technology increases, uh, for us to be able to be in some sort of a visual AR space and sitting with the band, um, as, you know, alternate reality starts to come to fruition. I think that that’s gonna be really interesting.

Simon Atwell (18:06):
I put on some VR glasses the first time, actually two days ago, I took my daughter to the science center. Okay. And there’s this dinosaur ride. Yeah. And, and I mean, I,

Eitan Stern (18:15):
It’s a wild experience.

Simon Atwell (18:16):
I fell over because I mean, it’s quite, it’s got amazing. And then I went running on the mountain and I was like, imagine this is like running, you could plug in running on the, on, on the mountain, a VR. I said, and I said, well, actually I guess we are in a VR. I said mean, but let’s not get philosophical, but <laugh>, but, but totally, you know, can see an emerge immersive experience sitting with musicians in the lounge, an intimate gig and man.

Eitan Stern (18:39):
Yeah. And I think that, I mean, I said we wouldn’t get too deep into it, but why not? For a second? I think like it’s been the, the idea for the entertainment industry for a while to like, how do you create these immersive experience? And I think back to when they’re released at what I think is quite silly, that 4d experience that the cinemas that the seats would move. Right. And I think that that’s speaking to it in a very like ungenuine or kind of technology for the sake of technology ways, but I can totally imagine as virtual reality becomes much more of a thing for us to be able to be in a room with the band, feel that you’re in a room with the band and I dunno where the tech would proceed to or get to, but maybe there is a way to emulate the, the smoke in the room, the feeling of sweat, the, the heat from the room. Like, and I think that that’s one of the thing the pandemic’s probably done with live music. Cause I think it has pushed that whole idea forward. That’s suddenly that there’s a will, there’s a need for it. And I think people are gonna be thinking about how you bring that to live music.

Simon Atwell (19:31):
Yeah. I mean, I, I’d obviously much rather be

Eitan Stern (19:33):
Much rather in the room with a

Simon Atwell (19:34):
pitcher of swinging a pitcher of beer in a, in a real room than living in the metaverse but, but if there’s no access, no option, it’s for sure. It’s probably gonna be a good second Simon.

Eitan Stern (19:43):
I’m in a bit more of a personal question. I know you’ve been doing some work around this and I think that I wanna speak about you on an emotional level at the pandemic. I think one of the things that, that hasn’t been talked enough about is the emotional impact that this pandemic had on musicians. So someone like yourself whose entire identity was one around life performance, being the center stage, showing your craft to, to, to different people and suddenly that’s taken away one night to the next, what impact do you think that that has had on yourself if you’re willing to talk about it and other musicians, is there a conversation there that needs to be having about the future of the music industry from just the sheer emotional impact? I mean, even with the paychecks disappearing one day to the next

Simon Atwell (20:21):
Yeah. I mean, I think that has, has been the biggest impact. You know, I was, um, I was halfway through my commercial flying exams in March, 2020,

Eitan Stern (20:32):
The live music and flying

Simon Atwell (20:34):
And, and live music and flying. And both industries within 48 hours were toast, completely toast, got a call, your tour’s canceled. And obviously flying was shut down. And both industries, there was a lot of pain and sure. And you know, I, I watched a lot of musicians. I’m, I’m friends with a lot of musicians who’ve really been struggling over the last two years, like properly struggling. And it’s been tough. It’s been really tough to watch. And I think, you know, if you, if your, uh, livelihood’s taken away, you know, we live in a country where the, the support from government was, was meager. There were a few handouts, um, but not nearly enough to make any real long lasting difference. It’s been really tough. So people have had to, to scramble do other things or like Me, go and hide in the desert until things improved. And so we’ve just moved back to Cape town and, you know, I’m working with a new new band and we are like really, quite optimistic about next year. It’s still tough though. It’s still, you know, you gotta, you got to really push to get people to, to fill a room. Yeah. Still, um, there’s still a little bit of resistance around like getting into a crowded room here. Totally.

Eitan Stern (21:45):
And the regulations haven’t opened

Simon Atwell (21:46):
Up hundred. Exactly. Yeah. Yeah. So it’s still tough. And I’ve seen, you know, initially when, when the pandemic hit and the only access to engaging with other people is online. I watched a few musicians attempting to connect through, you know, Instagram live Instagram shows or just chats or conversations. And I saw some of them fail to, to achieve that or to feel, to feel satisfied that they’d actually connected with an audience because I so used to standing on stage and, and, and really connecting with people. And that was a, a large part of what musicians get off on is, is actually genuine connectedness with, with somebody else’s totally, yeah. And feeding off that energy. And there was a, a real disconnect there. And I think a lot of people struggled with that. Something else that we, we got involved with was looking specifically at the mental health of musicians by doing interviews and releasing them as podcast, we launched a platform called Be The Realness.

Simon Atwell (22:51):
Um, the idea being to interview musicians and celebrities specifically around sort of tough life stuff, their experiences dealing with not necessarily limited to experiences around the pandemic, but just general tough life stuff. Um, and how they’ve dealt with issues around mental health or frustrations in, in any aspects of their life that they’ve had to overcome. And the idea being that kids can listen to these quite intimate interviews and not only identify with some of the issues that they may be experiencing, but also help to destigmatize. And ultimately our hope is the platform will grow towards, uh, a conduit to therapy, whether it’s counseling, um, or other avenues

Eitan Stern (23:33):
A hundred percent. I think that’s so great. And I think the role that musicians play in our society of being people that people look up to, and I think musicians are all too often willing to show, show, you know, show both the amount of money they’re making or their successes or them in front of big crowds. But I think the openness and willing to talk about the mental health issues, which, you know, musicians are experiencing, we’re all experiencing the world around us.

Simon Atwell (23:56):
Um, yeah. I mean, I think that thats, great musicians are creatives and creatives are susceptible to depression, anxiety, you know, they, they feel a lot more

Eitan Stern (24:05):
Than <laugh>. So lawyers actually.

Simon Atwell (24:07):
Yeah. Okay. No doubt, no doubt.

Eitan Stern (24:10):
And Simon, let’s talk about the South African music industry. I’m just curious about your opinion on it. I know this is not your, exactly your, your area of expertise, but as a longstanding member of the South African music community, where do you think the South African music industry is? What do you see your view on young talent coming up? How do you feel the industry’s been impacted by COVID? And do you feel like we have a long way to go, to get back to the strengths that we are at as a member of the community? What’s your views on the south African music industry?

Simon Atwell (24:34):
Well, having, having been hiding in the desert for two years, I’m a little bit, uh, disengaged from what’s what’s happening on the ground, but obviously there’s a huge amount of talent in South Africa and we have songs and we have acts that make it internationally with regularity, and we’ve proven that over and over again, you know, so I think the future is bright and I think historically post pandemic, there’s been a real period of excess and rejuvenation, and I’m really hoping that that’s gonna include the music industry and live performance and entertainment. Um, recently there was a call for artists to apply for assistance in live performance, specifically from one of the rights organizations, they were earning this fund and they had a record number of applications. I think there were only a hundred awarded, a hundred funds awarded, and I think they had close to 600 applicants and that’s specifically around live performance, which just goes to show that there’s a huge amount of talent out there hungry to perform. Um, and I think that that’s quite exciting that there are that many artists who have managed to, to not only, you know, make it through the pandemic and, and stay together, but stay focused, but are still wanting to create music and perform it

Eitan Stern (25:54):
For sure. A hundred percent and personally, Simon, what is the future? Just to wrap things up, what is the future having store for you? Um, what do you have going on? So you said the band’s on a bit of a hiatus, but what what’s going on for Simon?

Simon Atwell (26:07):
Well, um, I mentioned that we’ve just come back from America with my new band, the Congo Cowboys, uh, we’re not allowed to talk about why we are in America, but

Eitan Stern (26:17):
I assume at some point you’ll be able to,

Simon Atwell (26:19):
Well, at some point I think a lot more people will have heard or seen us globally. The idea is that we’ve got a huge opportunity. We’re quite excited about it. And we’re preparing for that in the best way that we can. So we we’re about to launch our Petreon and we are writing songs and yeah, we are looking to hopefully be picking up where we left off in terms of our tour schedule. Amazing.

Eitan Stern (26:58):
Yeah. I’m, I’m gonna press you for one more, one more thing on this. So I know with certainly with, with my business, with legalese, like one of the, the things that every business has to do is actual work that you do for us is legal work for you. It’s music, the other aspects, you gotta find these opportunities. We have to find work. You have to find these opportunities. I mean, how does this African musician sitting here or in Prince Albert, find this, this opportunity in Nashville? Like, what is your process? What do you do in order to find the opportunities that have come forward for freshlyground or for, I imagine for freshlyground, the inbox was getting full more and more often, but how, how have you gone about taking a band from the ground and then finding opportunities for it, with the Congo Cowboys?

Simon Atwell (27:36):
Yeah. You, you gotta believe man. <laugh>, you know, I think we, we forged ahead as a band, in some respects. I E I coaxed the guys out to prince Albert as many times as I could to record play music, hang out and, and keep the vibe going. And we got a grant to make some music. So we made an EP during the pandemic and released that

Eitan Stern (28:03):
Is, that, is that searching online is that we, we, I guess what I’m trying to say, it’s any musicians that are listening to this, like, I’m quite curious where seasoned musician does the work in finding the opportunities instead of waiting for them to arrive.

Simon Atwell (28:15):
Right. So there’s been a few over the last couple of years. SAMPRA has been very instrumental in assisting musicians. SAMRO’s launched some, some initiatives. So, you know, if you’re a member of any of those rights organizations, you have access immediately to these opportunities. Brilliant. We were discovered through Spotify, amazing for this American opportunity. It’s literally scout looking for interesting acts, listening to music, using

Eitan Stern (28:42):
The algorithm

Simon Atwell (28:43):
To get to X around the world. And, and that’s as result of us continuing to just put our heads down and, and write music and release it regardless and work

Eitan Stern (28:51):
A hundred percent. I mean, firstly, it’s amazing thing on the use of, I mean, the, when we are talking about where the music industry has changed, following the pandemic, the growth of platforms like Spotify, all these algorithms to help people find music. That’s a big one. And then for sure, the age odd lesson, you know, you’re gonna be reminded that a million times in life. I know I have always have you gotta do the work. You gotta put the hours in and things. So some magic for the universe means you get something out of it.

Simon Atwell (29:17):
Yeah. Not how many people would define making music as work. But it, it, it can be <laugh>,

Eitan Stern (29:23):
I’m not enough musicians in my life to know that it can be Simon. Thanks for joining us. I appreciate your time. I hope people enjoyed listening to this. This is one of five episodes we are releasing. It’s this first season of our legalese podcast. I hope you enjoy it. I hope you subscribe. And I hope you check out Simon’s work and you can get the links and our show notes.

Simon Atwell (29:40):
Thanks, Aton. Um, that was awesome.

Eitan Stern (29:43):
This podcast is recorded by Simon Atwell. The intro music is by pH fat. I’m your host Eitan stern for more information about legalese, catch us on or on the socials.


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